[Buttercups: The Genus Ranunculus East of the Cascade Mountains of Oregon and Washington]

Modest Buttercup

Ranunculus verecundus

Modest buttercup from near Table Rock, Monument Rock Wilderness........September 5, 1999.

The photo at right shows a close-up of the flower of modest buttercup? as seen in the Monument Rock Wilderness.

Modest buttercup is an attractive, perennial wildflower with a cluster of cleft leaves at the base, and erect to spreading stems with from 1- 5 flowers. The plants may reach a height from 7- 20 cm. The nodes on the stems may root on contact with the ground. The herbage is generally smooth or glabrous.

The leaves are mostly basal and are ternately (3- times) to palmately (5- times) divided. The leaf lobes are wedge shaped, and are often 3-lobed. The 1-3 stem leaves are alternate, divided into 3-5 narrowly linear- to oblanceolate-shaped segments. The individual leaf blades are broader than long, reniform to cordate, and from 1-2 cm long. The petioles are usually several times longer than the blades.

1-5 bright yellow flowers are found on the stems. The five shiny yellow petals are 3-5 mm long and wide. The 5 sepals are yellowish to purplish-tinged and range from 3.5-5 mm long. 20-30 yellow stamens and 30-70 tiny green pistils are found at the center of the flower.

Leaves of the modest buttercup.


Modest buttercup is found in moist mountain meadows, and amidst moist talus slopes. It frequently may be found blooming on steep rocky slopes or in depressions recently uncovered by snow melt.


Modest buttercup is a widespread species, found throughout the mountainous west, from Alaska south to the southern portion of the Washington Cascades, and east through the Blue Mts of Oregon to Idaho, Montana, and north into Alberta.

Paul Slichter